Spokane Diocese Raising Money to Pay Abuse Settlements

The Catholic Diocese of Spokane is selling its bishop's office building — and hopes to sell all of its other property — to raise money to pay victims of clergy sex abuse.

The Pastoral Center, also known as the Chancery, is among $11 million in assets the diocese claimed when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004, citing more than $81 million in claims.

"It has always been our intention to sell everything," Shaun Cross, a lawyer representing the diocese in its bankruptcy case, said.

The Pastoral Center, a 28,968-foot building constructed in 1910, has an asking price of $1.5 million, Keen Realty Vice President Michael Matlat said.

Spokane is one of three U.S. dioceses that have filed for bankruptcy because of the abuse crisis. The diocese has announced settlements of about $10 million with insurance carriers and is negotiating possible settlements with other insurance companies.

A federal bankruptcy judge recently ruled that $80 million in churches, schools and other properties in 82 parishes are owned by the bishop and could be sold to satisfy creditors, who are mostly people who claim they were abused by priests and other clergy. The diocese has appealed that ruling.

Spokane Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is among those named in bankruptcy claims as an abuser. Skylstad has denied the claim that he sexually abused a young woman in the 1960s.